Manny Ramirez’s season-opening slump appears to finally be behind him.
Ramirez hit a career-worst .202 with just three homers in April, but has picked up two hits in each of his last four games. He homered twice in Thursday’s 8-7 win over Seattle, including a tie-breaking drive in the eighth inning.
“His track record says when he gets hot he doesn’t get hot with singles. He drives in a lot of runs,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He took some healthy swings tonight.”
Ramirez went 0-for-11 with five strikeouts as Boston was swept in a three-game series from June 13-15 in Minnesota. A career .313 hitter, he’s hit at least 35 homers in each of his last four seasons and driven in at least 100 runs in his last nine.
Thursday’s game was a makeup of an April 12 rainout for the Red Sox (18-9), who have won six of eight and lead the AL East by 5 1/2 games over Tampa Bay, Toronto and the New York Yankees. Wily Mo Pena went 4-for-4, Mike Lowell had three hits and Julio Lugo doubled in two runs.
The Twins (15-13) have won seven of the last nine from the Red Sox overall, but come in after dropping three of four, including Thursday’s 6-4 defeat at Tampa Bay.
Nick Punto went 4-for-4 for the Twins, and Luis Castillo and Jason Kubel each had three hits. Torii Hunter went 1-for-5, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 18 games during which he’s hitting .368 (28-for-76) with 16 runs, five homers and 17 RBIs.
Hunter has hits in six of his last seven home games against Boston.
Carlos Silva (2-1, 3.10 ERA) will start for Minnesota after allowing three runs and 10 hits in six innings of Saturday’s 11-3 win at Detroit. He has not allowed more than three runs in any of his five starts this season.
“When the offense hits like that, I can be more relaxed on the mound,” he said. “But I still have to do my thing.”
Silva is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four career appearances, including three starts, against the Red Sox.
Boston counters with Tim Wakefield (2-3, 2.59), who allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Yankees, walking a season-high six batters.
“You never like to pitch like that, but you take a little bit of pride knowing that I did the best that I could do today,” he said.
The knuckleballer is 11-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 22 career appearances, including 19 starts, against the Twins. He has lost his last two starts against them, giving up 10 runs in 9 1-3 total innings. He also is 6-3 with a 4.38 ERA in 10 starts at the Metrodome.